Right Housing Concept, Wrong Clientele?

path beside a vineyard with houses in background
Alvide, trilho das Vinhas. 03-18 photo by Rúdisicyon is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0
Does quaint, hilly Lisbon need a grid of seniors' house-boxes with illuminated, translucent white and red (alarm) roofs? One architect thinks so.

Here’s a senior’s housing project in Portugal with a different approach to its personal alarm system. Retirement residences and nursing homes commonly have buttons for residents to push or strings to pull when they need help. In this building, the whole roof of the unit where the resident lives lights up when the alarm is activated.

The knowledge that pulling a string would start their entire roof flashing red would have been enough to ensure that my grandparents never pulled the string, even if they needed help. What an embarrassment!

On the other hand, what about people who live with a violent partner? Incidents of domestic violence are on the rise, thanks to COVID-19’s home based response. In some communities a towel alarm system has been implemented: a towel on your balcony tells others that you need help. An alarm that causes your white roof to flash red would really get people’s attention. And as far fetched as this might seem, public outing is a strategy that is used to curb domestic violence in some cultures (although not, so far as we know, with flashing lights).

You can read more about the senior’s project in designboom: guedes cruz builds social housing with illuminating box roofs for the elderly in portugal